My A1s are SO BAD

I have not worked with a single good first year this year. The last 2 years were incomparably better. It takes me AT LEAST twice as much time to ask someone to do something than do it myself. They should be getting how to do comps after 6 months but seems like they don't… also, every single piece of work is always late…. what can I do ?

Comments (62)

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
8d 

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  • 12
  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
2d 

Besides lack of skill, some of their mistakes are just due to lure negligence. For example, showing numbers on a slide that are all a year off, or miscalculating growth rates. It's not hard to sense check numbers before sending to the team. Or updating the market data date in the footnotes but not updating the graphs… I mean this is just a joke when it happens repeatedly 
 

Surely I can improve mentoring, no questions, feel free to share your best practices. 

  • VP in IB - Cov
2d 

I feel you - we all have those analysts. Always frustrating but you need to find a way to help them improve, otherwise it will suck forever.

It's important to give clear and direct feedback. Never be a dick about it though. I used to hold short feedback calls after working on projects with analysts and junior associates (mainly because they asked for them) and i'd bring up 2-3 items they did well and 2-3 items that need improvement. Could be as simple as "you did a great job with responsiveness but lacked attention to detail and here are some tips to improve that i've used"

Be clear on what you're looking for out of them - is it speed or perfection... obviously we'd love both but some projects require speed + 80/20 rule, while others need to be perfect. 

8d 
MidasMulligan, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Obviously, I don't know your situation or what the last two years were like. But I had a similar moment at one point and ended up realizing at least part of that feeling was due to the fact I had entered the high-slope part of my early-career development and I, myself, was significantly better at my work than I was the previous year. So the same work output from a junior the year before appeared to take longer, be crappier, and not as thorough because my expectations/perspective had skewed so much, so rapidly. Gave me new appreciation for all the seniors who had the patience to deal with my dumbass when I was just a baby banker.

Not sure what advice to give you since I've not been at IB desk, but if the above is partially true then perspective can help you be a coach to them?

If the above is in no way true and these kids just suck... then damn. I've experienced the same degradation in base talent over time, too. At least when I was coming up, I was willing to think and try. Kids these days will just go "I dont know" and produce nothing. Very frustrating. 

"And where we had thought to be alone we shall be with all the world"
  • 15
  • Associate 2 in IB - Cov
8d 

Mine are starting to get pretty good, y'all stay safe though

  • 2
8d 
Swag King, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sometimes you have to explain to Analysts; "Look dude. This is your core job responsibility and it is an essential skill-set for an Analyst. It is explicitly what you are employed to do. I can do it myself and so can any of the Associates, but if we consistently have to then you are essentially left without any role or place in the group."

Specifically if it is the case that your Analysts just aren't making the effort to learn & work efficiently because they feel like they can rely on you to do their job for them. That's when you have to make it clear that you having to do their work essentially means they are useless to the company and don't have any place being staffed on anything, let alone employed to begin with. Always good to be as gentle as possible but you need to make sure they understand this point for their own good. The job of an Analyst isn't to just show up and survive the day, it is to complete wide arrays of tasks for your team, if you are just focused on surviving the day and leaving as early as possible you're going to be pushed out. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
7d 

Totally agree. Seen them get pushed out too. Do they not realize how fragile their positions/bonuses are?

  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
7d 

The COVID years made everyone in college more retarded so it's only somewhat our fault.

  • 5
6d 
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not sure a lot can be done when you consider service quality is down in every walk of life.  Surely I'm not the only one who's finding incompetence in every little interaction compared to just a few years ago. 

Until very recently, every employer of every kind has been begging for more help and I can only imagine that it's a cause of every service process sucking whether it's your analyst or your barista.  I can't even get the damn Taco Bell app to apply a promo code properly.  In 2023, 54 years after we put a man on the moon.  It just feels like we've become a nation of low standards.

I thought this was only going to affect lower-skill areas because that's the group that got stimulus checks.  But it seems to be broader.  Saw some of my biggest knucklehead friends get jobs in 2020-22 where they wouldn't get past the screening interview in normal times.  I'm not sure what's going on (something something Fed something money printing blah blah), but it's been going on long enough that my expectations are permanently lowered now.  

  • 2
6d 
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

But I'll tell you what I did with analysts who didn't own their shit.  I just cut them out.  You don't want to be helpful, fine, I'll do it myself.  But I'm not going to hand you a task and create all kinds of superficial impressions that you were part of it just because you sent me emails or saved down crappy work that I then had to "edit" (i.e. effectively re-do).  Kill the paper trail.  As an associate I'd rather do 10-20% more work and have an analyst who knows he's adding no value.  As opposed to doing a bit less work and have all kinds of difficult conversations and awkward interactions around whether someone is pulling their weight.  It pays you back at review time: "I never really worked with him" is a lot easier than all the mealy-mouthed shit you have to write when someone sucks.

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
6d 

Partially agree, but there is a limit. Dealing with similar, not sure if he's fully checked out or personal issues but we are talking half done sloppy pages after hours. Not picking up calls. Saying he's close to done multiple times only to discover hasn't even started

I can't do 100% work for weeks on end. Was up til 4/5am consecutive nights by doing that.

How do these kids not feel the slightest level of personal obligation to contribute? Blows my mind

6d 
randomnumbers234238324353, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm a hiring manager with >5 reports, but I work outside of finance now. It does feel like quality is down. At my company, despite having a fairly difficult interview process, which includes a take-home assessment, I've found that:

  • More new hires lack basic professionalism like showing up to meetings on time, communicating when they will miss deadlines, and just remembering to do their work if they are tasked with more than 1 responsibility. It's shocking to me, because these are core skills you should have just from doing well in college. But I know the majority of good schools grade inflate to the max.
  • Work ethic is generally down. I remember myself + my other entry level friends starting work and being hungry to do well. I'm not in finance anymore, but still in a fast paced industry where we pay top 1-5% of the market, yet most of the younger guys have a very 9-5 mentality or work even less even once they are hired. This is despite explicitly stating during the job interview that this is NOT a 9-5 job and you have to work hard. 
  • Interview performance can still be good. It's not hard for a bad performer to work really hard to pass an interview process with flying colors. 

That said, I still have a few young hires who are great and can absolutely crush it. Great self-motivated people will always exist, but I feel like the recent crop of undergrads are probably worse for a few reasons:

  • Shift in values, with SOME Gen Z being a bit less career focused. I think this is totally fine, as they follow basic professionalism and don't deliberately go into a career that's highly demanding. However, naturally, everyone wants to get paid a lot and not work hard. So people who aren't a fit for demanding careers still try to join.
  • Worse education, which is not just due to Covid education. Many schools, especially top ivy league schools, are grade inflating to the max. I feel like this is causing a lot of younger people to lack basic core skills like completing work on time, basic time management, and basic communication. My friend is a doctoral candidate at an Ivy (HYP) and helps with grading students. Some professors have explicitly told my friend to not give any student a grade below an A-. Even had a student not show up to class all semester, turn in all her assignments 2-3 months late, and the student still got an A-. Also saw an article recently that the average GPA at Harvard is a 3.9 and I believe it. 
    • So you can imagine a student like this entering into the workforce. They've basically gotten As throughout college, even without putting in a significant amount of effort, without delivering things on time, and being told that they are special. It's really bad conditioning for the working world.
    • When I was in school, I had classes where only 1-5% of the class would receive an A. The lesson for me was clear - that to get a good result I had to bust my ass. Now for many top schools, it's the reverse with only 1-5% of the class NOT getting an A. 

What I've found to be helpful in managing low performers, which fortunately for me, I can also make direct PIP and firing decisions almost unilaterally. 

  • Be brutally honest and blunt. Society has trended towards having a very soft culture and people have selective hearing. Delivering feedback in a nice way works great for top performers since they are highly self-motivated and eager to improve. Low performers, on the other hand, have selective hearing and if you sugar coat negative feedback, they only hear the positive parts. I have learned to explicitly say "You are underperforming and your work quality is low". You also need to be pretty direct with negative feedback early in their tenure. I used to make the mistake of being really nice, thinking people will naturally improve. This rarely happens and then when you later deliver negative feedback, it comes as more of a shock to the individual. Being honest is actually the kinder thing to do, since it gives them the best chance to improve
  • Don't be afraid to PIP/fire/rate someone poorly, AFTER you've given them explicitly feedback and they have not improved. This might sound mean and brutal, but your top performers will leave and get frustrated working with low performers. Better to trim a team of 5 down to 3 top performers and pay those top performers more. Obviously try to work with the low performers to elevate them, but having a never fire policy is really bad. I worked with a company with a never fire policy and it led to droves of top performers leaving and a ton of deadweight. 
  • 8
  • Intern in IB - Cov
6d 

Great points. I went to a LAC that is well known for pretty severe deflation, so it's really frustrating to get the "oh your grades are trailing those of your peers" when kids at HYP are getting those top grades just for showing up (or not)

  • 1
  • Business School in PE - LBOs
5d 

Hi - I'm not OP but thanks for this comment. I've been struggling with a related issue that you mention towards the end. Humbly, I am a top performer at associate/senior associate level at a well-known firm. I chalk it up to actually caring about work quality, genuine interest in investing and having couple years extra experience in related field before starting. It's dragging on me that it seems most of my younger peers just don't care as much or work as hard (mid and senior levels have made these comments). They want to get the name on their resume and go to bschool. It makes me annoyed and introduces some complacency because I know "caring" is so important to being successful in these hard jobs and it's at a premium. It also means I get a lot of the really nasty work when something goes wrong (bad portco that needs extra love, etc.) I'm considering leaving my firm for one of the notorious MFs just for an extra kick in the ass and more competitive environment, despite being in a great position. I think it's important to keep my foot on the gas as I start the mid-level portion of my career. Junior level is pretty soft here and I don't think that will translate well to carry dollars in the long run… Any advice on improving my headspace or should I just dip?

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
5d 

I agree with a lot of these points but would also note that school is much different from work. In school, you can get a 90% on every exam, be an A- student and graduate with honors etc 
On the job, it's expected every slide and deliverable is 100%, which is much more difficult to achieve and the A- graduates will have to recondition themselves to learn that it's not good enough to have done 90% of their slides well. 

Many students also spent 1-2 years of college remote, where grading standards have declined. Getting an A- these days is could likely be the same effort as receiving a B in class a decade ago. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
6d 

I have some who may just never 'get it.' It's a bad cycle though because I kind of end up doing their work for them because I can't have a few simple pages take 8 hours (to be properly done) when I can do them in 1. I've tried to take a step back, let them do the work, give comments, etc but at this point with the ones who aren't good, I am just doing the work they would otherwise be doing and I try to teach them where I can. I kinda feel bad because I know they're trying but when it hits 11pm and they are no where close to being finished I just hop in the master to get things moving. 

Controversial
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
6d 

If you are an ASO1, this means that this is the first time you've really been tasked with delegation and handling. Either u suck @ giving directions or are just inept at understanding what the quality of work new analysts are capable of.
 

Your baseline comparison is:

- Your first year where you probably thought your entire class is stacked because you're all equally shit

- Your second year where you were seriously considering A2A so were working your ass off and were just using willing 1st years as meat-shields who took better directions from your higher ups  

I'm sick of these old heads shitting on every single new class & don't need newly minted Associates regurgitating this BS. Mid-20-year-olds having unrealistic workplace expectations is literally why this industry doesn't progress.  Strong associates and VPs have one-offed good performers about how people have always said what you're saying (and I'm sure you can find recurring themes in posts on WSO historically). People thought COVID hires sucked. People thought the post financial-crisis hires were shit. People thought these new generations who spread comps using "the internet" instead of hard copies of mail-received 10-Ks sucked.

Tl;dr get better at guiding junior resources instead of shitting on them. 

  • 8
  • 4
5d 
Lockwood, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you are an ASO1, this means that this is the first time you've really been tasked with delegation and handling. Either u suck @ giving directions or are just inept at understanding what the quality of work new analysts are capable of.
 

Your baseline comparison is:

- Your first year where you probably thought your entire class is stacked because you're all equally shit

- Your second year where you were seriously considering A2A so were working your ass off and were just using willing 1st years as meat-shields who took better directions from your higher ups  

I'm sick of these old heads shitting on every single new class & don't need newly minted Associates regurgitating this BS. Mid-20-year-olds having unrealistic workplace expectations is literally why this industry doesn't progress.  Strong associates and VPs have one-offed good performers about how people have always said what you're saying (and I'm sure you can find recurring themes in posts on WSO historically). People thought COVID hires sucked. People thought the post financial-crisis hires were shit. People thought these new generations who spread comps using "the internet" instead of hard copies of mail-received 10-Ks sucked.

Tl;dr get better at guiding junior resources instead of shitting on them. 

Nah this isn't it. L Take.

I'm a senior and can safely say that progressively the analyst classes have become worse - both in terms of skills and attitude. 

It's not just a teaching thing. There is a distinct lack of work ethic and a reduced willingness to try to build your skills if you are behind. 

TMT M&A - London
  • 2
  • 2
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
5d 
Lockwood

If you are an ASO1, this means that this is the first time you've really been tasked with delegation and handling. Either u suck @ giving directions or are just inept at understanding what the quality of work new analysts are capable of.
 

Your baseline comparison is:

- Your first year where you probably thought your entire class is stacked because you're all equally shit

- Your second year where you were seriously considering A2A so were working your ass off and were just using willing 1st years as meat-shields who took better directions from your higher ups  

I'm sick of these old heads shitting on every single new class & don't need newly minted Associates regurgitating this BS. Mid-20-year-olds having unrealistic workplace expectations is literally why this industry doesn't progress.  Strong associates and VPs have one-offed good performers about how people have always said what you're saying (and I'm sure you can find recurring themes in posts on WSO historically). People thought COVID hires sucked. People thought the post financial-crisis hires were shit. People thought these new generations who spread comps using "the internet" instead of hard copies of mail-received 10-Ks sucked.

Tl;dr get better at guiding junior resources instead of shitting on them. 

Nah this isn't it. L Take.

I'm a senior and can safely say that progressively the analyst classes have become worse - both in terms of skills and attitude. 

It's not just a teaching thing. There is a distinct lack of work ethic and a reduced willingness to try to build your skills if you are behind. 

According to your profile, you are an MBA Associate. Your opinion is not valid here among many other places. Touch grass and hold this ratio

  • 5
  • 4
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
1d 

said it on another thread and i'll say it again. the reason why "attitudes and skills are getting worse" is because the younger generation doesn't want to throw their life like you did. check craigslist if you need help losing your virginity.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
2d 

Are you an Analyst 2 and saying this? Lol. 
 

True, I manage analysts now more than when I was a 2nd or 3rd year, however 1) there is a full recognition in my firm at all levels (whether EDs, VPs, Asso) that this year is worse than usual 2) last year's analysts were way better, I could give slides to people on live deals and they were mostly right most of the time

It is completely fine to ask questions or make genuine mistakes, this is what I'm here for, however:

- When I give you a list of comments, it's not ok to ignore half of them

- When you say you can finish something by COB, it's not OK to finish 2 days later (literally)

- It's not ok to say you got it despite me asking multiple times if you need help and ask 0 questions for 2 days and at the end tell me you have a bunch of questions and got it wrong 

- Some of them literally cannot spread comps after 6 months…

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
1d 

No way those points at the end are actually happening... That's not bad analyst that's bad worker in general, they wouldn't survive in any field. 

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
5d 

WFH created more flexibility with work schedules and also created more opportunities for new analysts to slack. Motivation just isn't the same. The idea of working until 1am would now probably sound unideal to many analysts these days given everyone leaves the office at 7pm. 

  • 1
3d 
kuso20, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Could this help with retention for those who want to stay at a firm? 

5d 
Lockwood, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Our Analysts even at bulge are getting worse each year. Honestly it worries me if these people stay and become associates who cannot do the job or teach the new analysts correctly. 

I'm sad to say that quota hiring and diversity push has been the main culprit. We are forced to choose Summer and FT Analysts that tick boxes rather than people who can actually do the job. You may find the odd one that surprises you. 

It's a joke being at a Top 5 IB and having to deal with shit juniors. Sorry if that's harsh but it's so tiresome.

TMT M&A - London
  • 6
  • 1
5d 
high hopes, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Lockwood

Our Analysts even at bulge are getting worse each each. Honestly it worries me if these people stay and become associates who cannot do the job or teach the new analysts correctly. 

I'm sad to say that quota hiring and diversity push has been the main culprit. We are forced to choose Summer and FT Analysts that tick boxes rather than people who can actually do the job. You may find the odd one that surprises you. 

It's a joke being at a Top 5 IB and having to deal with shit juniors. Sorry if that's harsh but it's so tiresome.

As someone who started in IB ~a decade ago and came back post Covid - I largely agree with this

theres analysts in the bullpen now that wouldn't have gotten first rounds pre-Covid (just looking at stats - which does indicate performance somewhat)

I wouldn't say it's entirely a generational thing - but high paying tech jobs for less hours definitely took some talent in the past 5 years (anybody can be a product manager - not saying SWE)

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
5d 

Tell your analysts to print their work when they review. Simple, but it makes a noticeable improvement in quality.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
3d 

This helped a lot when I was a first year. 

  • Intern in IB - Cov
3d 

Not at all defending analysts who are genuinely not trying, but at least in my group, there's a lot of associates / second years who give unclear instructions that miss a lot of detail and nuance (don't explain the concept or context on why something is being done a certain way) and are then openly hostile to those who do ask questions

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
2d 

Why don't you ask questions ?

Its true that sometimes it can be challenging to put yourself in the shoes of someone that knows much less (seems you're an intern), however as a junior it is your job to make sure you fully understood the assignment

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
2d 

I do ask questions ("and are then openly hostile to those who do ask questions") 

2d 
musclemonkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Since the dawn of time, older workers have always begrudged younger workers. "Back in my day…" Because we lived thru a pandemic and a unique situation of WFH, convinced this has taken on the actual name and reason of why younger workers are now somehow worse. Despite the fact that in 2021 all companies posted record profits including banks whose deal flow was insane despite all the "terrible AN / ASO".

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
2d 

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